The Health Benefits of Ginger

The Health Benefits of Ginger

Ginger is one of the most commonly used spices in the world and has a well documented history as an herbal supplement for medicinal purposes. Ginger is the common name for the root of Zingiber officinale.

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Historical uses for ginger include nausea, headaches and migraines, blood pressure, influenza, and colds (although it’s not necessarily helpful for all of those). The most commonly consumed part of ginger is the rhizome, or the vertical portion of the root. I’m going to go over all the potential health benefits that have evidence and research to back it up.

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Appetite

A pilot study published in 2012 (Metabolism, Mansour et al.) found that 2g of ginger taken with a meal can reduce the sensation of hunger and subsequent caloric intake. However, I could not find a study that specifically looked at using ginger as a weight loss supplement.

Cognition

Various studies have associated ginger consumption with improvements in word recognition, working memory, reaction times, and spatial memory.

Blood Sugar

Ginger can promote the release of insulin into the bloodstream. It’s effect on blood sugar and in the management of diabetes in humans is not well understood.

Obesity

2g of ginger taken alongside a meal can increase the caloric expenditure for the next 6 hours following the meal. This appears to occur via the thermic effect of food which increases the metabolic rate.

Arthritis

A study published in 2001 (Arthritis and Rheumatology, Altman et al) concluded “A highly purified and standardized ginger extract had a statistically significant effect on reducing symptoms of osteoarthritis of the knee. This effect was moderate. “

Nausea

Ginger is a well documented treatment for nausea, motion sickness and sea sickness.  It’s also may be effective in treating morning sickness during pregnancy according to the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology. A 2014 meta analysis found it improved nausea but did not decrease the frequency of vomiting. Dosage in that study was 1-1.5g per 24 hours. The role of ginger in treating nausea secondary to chemotherapy is not as clear, although a preliminary study suggests it may help.

Flatulence

Has been used to treat flatulence and gas.

Testosterone

Ginger appears to be effective at increasing testosterone in rodents. The mechanism through which this occurs is not well understood.  One study of supplementation in infertile men demonstrated a 17% improvement in testosterone levels.

Colon Cancer

Mice research conducted at the University of Minnesota suggest that ginger supplementation may reduce the risk of developing colon cancer. It may have anti-tumor properties but more research is required to make any recommendations regarding cancer at this time.

There are many diseases or issues that you’ll read or hear people talk about that suggest ginger is an effective supplement for treating or preventing that disease. Unfortunately, there simply is not evidence to support all of it The following is a list of problems for which I could not find a study showing it was an effective treatment:

  • Alcohol hangover
  • High cholesterol
  • Migraine Headache
  • Muscle pain after exercise
  • Colds
  • Influenza

Other Information

  • Safety and toxicity: Most common side effects are gastrointestinal at the 1-2g range
  • No reported adverse events in pregnancy.
  • Dosage: 1-2g for nausea, 1g typical for most other uses
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